Australia’s cost of living seesaw - Op Ed, Fiji Times

AUSTRALIA’S COST OF LIVING SEESAW

Fiji Times Australia, 11 April 2019

Do you feel like the cost of living is higher than it used to be? You’re not imagining it.

For many Australians, life can feel like a lop-sided seesaw. On the high part of the seesaw, we have electricity bills, childcare costs, and health insurance costs. Almost two million Australians are unemployed or underemployed, meaning they can’t find work or enough hours at work.

The other part of the seesaw is stuck on the ground: wages, incomes and savings. Wages growth has been lower every quarter under this government than any quarter under its predecessor. Wages growth has been as low as 1.9 per cent since the 2013 election. Even during the global financial crisis, wages didn’t drop below 2.9 per cent.

This seesaw is creating a nightmare for Australian families as costs go up and wages growth goes down. It’s no surprise that household anxiety rose to its highest level in more than three years in December, according to the recent NAB Consumer Behaviour Survey.

The upcoming election is an opportunity to tip the seesaw back in the other direction. Labor will ease pressure on household budgets by boosting wages, restoring penalty rates, cracking down on casualization and labour hire. To improve productivity, we’ll invest in apprentices, skills and training. We will fix our schools and hospitals, stand up for workers and pensioners and foster renewables to deliver cheaper, cleaner energy.

Australia needs a strong economy that works for all. We’ll implement an Australian Investment Guarantee that encourages businesses to expand their operations. For the ten million workers who earn less than $125,000, we’ll deliver bigger, better and fairer personal income tax cuts. We’ll make vital investments in schools and properly fund infrastructure, paid for by closing unsustainable tax loopholes. It’s time to tip the seesaw back in favour of Australian households.

Andrew Leigh is the Shadow Assistant Treasurer, and his website is www.andrewleigh.com.

ENDS

Authorised by Noah Carroll ALP Canberra.


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